Don’t pick the wildflowers

Don’t pick the wildflowers if you want to avoid arrest:

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

I am serious when I say not to pick the wildflowers – or even pick up the feathers of wild birds – if you want to avoid arrest.

Spring is here, even though spring and winter are still battling it out to a degree – children are drawn to the flowers that bless us with their color this time of year. If you have a flower bed in your yard, you’ve probably experienced the quickness a toddler can decimate a bed only to hand you a crumpled bouquet as a show of love and kindness. Unfortunately, wildflowers can suffer at the hands of little ones, and there are laws to protect them.

Many wildflowers are sensitive species, some are even endangered. State laws protect wildflowers in state parks, and in some places not just in such places. In some countries national laws protect wildflowers and such and in some countries the entire things can on take farcical dimension.

Can picking wildflowers get you arrested?

Yes, it can and not just in Britain where the law seems to have take on a farcical dimension.

Under the California Code of Regulations 4306 under Title 14 the law states that if you pick, dig up, kick, drive over, squash, move, molest or, as the code puts it, bum (bumming, in this case, has nothing to do with affecting flower moods: It means “to ruin or spoil”) a wildflower, it’s a misdemeanor charge. The ranger will give you a ticket. In case you’re wondering, it is also illegal at national parks.

Recently, parents in the UK were arrested when their daughters picked flowers. The Guardian reports:

“It may be a while before Jane Errington and her partner Marc Marrengo venture back to their local park for a springtime walk. On Sunday, police were called after their two daughters were seen picking daffodils; the constables informed Errington and Marrengo that they could be arrested for criminal damage…”

Dominic Price of wild plant protection charity Plantlife claimed that it is not normally an offence to pick the ‘Four Fs’ – fruit, foliage, fungi or flowers – if the plants are growing wild and it is for your personal use and not for sale. Dozens of rare or endangered plants – from the lady’s slipper orchid and adder’s tongue, to threadmoss and sandwort – are, however, protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act, so pick those and you could face arrest (though you’re unlikely to stumble across too many of them). Whatever you do, don’t drag up the whole plant to resettle it in your own garden – the law firmly forbids the uprooting of any wild plant.

It would appear that the gentleman from the Plantlife charity either has not read the 1981 Countryside and Wildlife Act or there have been some sensible changes made for, when it came into effect, it covered all the “Four Fs”, including leaves and feather that had been dropped by wild birds, any wild birds.

However, the case reported by The Guardian has nothing to do with wild flowers and neither with the countryside. It happened in a municipally-owned park and the flowers were daffodils which will have been planted by the gardeners in that particular park.

So here the same applied as would be if the Errington and Marrengo children had gone into your neighbor’s garden and ripped out the daffodils their. So-called “public parks” are owned by the municipality and under British laws are “private property with public access granted” and thus the damage occurred on private land, according to the law.

As far as wildflowers go make it a parental rule of “we don’t pick them.” We may admire their beauty. If we feel we need to capture this beauty, then we can draw, paint, or photograph the subject.

© 2011